Giving to God's Global Work (II Corinthians 9:6-15)
Season of Giving
Giving to God’s Global Work
II Corinthians 9:6-15
December 8th, 2013
(One Mission: I am Not Ashamed)
I. Reaching Around the World
This is from an article by the BBC, dated October 13th, 2013:
“India is home to an estimated 40 million widows - approximately 10% of all women.
Aging women are more vulnerable than men. Without any financial security or welfare infrastructure, many of them are abandoned...where they live off charity while they wait to die. Shakti Dasi and other widows like her chant prayer songs twice a day, four times a week to earn 20 cents and a bowl of rice.”
But the problem is bigger than just widows. Did you know that In India, more than 50 percent of women are illiterate? Living in poverty with a limited education makes it hard for these women to find quality jobs to support their families. Many of them are often at risk of being trapped in dehumanizing professions (like the sex trade) in order to feed their children.
When you hear about women like Shakti Dasi and the challenges they face, does your heart go out to her? Don't you wish there was a way you could help her, or women like her?
Hold that thought and turn with me to II Corinthians chapter 9. Last week we began a new series, a new Advent series entitled “Season of Giving”. Since so many people refer to this time of the year as the “Season of Giving”, I thought it would be a great time to explore what the Bible teaches us about giving. Remember the words of Jesus that Paul quoted in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. So as we did last week, let's continue to ask, “Why? Why is it more blessed to give than to receive?”
Let's ask that very question as we look at a passage we looked at last week as well: II Corinthians 9:6-15.
II. The Passage: “Which through Us Will Produce Thanksgiving” (9:6-15)
Okay, before we jump into this passage, here's what you need to know about what's going on in this part of II Corinthians. Chapters 8 and 9 of this letter deal exclusively with the matter of a special collection that Paul was organizing on behalf of the poor in Jerusalem. In chapter 8, verse 4, Paul describes this collection as “the relief of the saints”, and in chapter 8, verse 6, he labels it an “act of grace”.
So why is Paul is writing to the church in Corinth about this collection? Because, as the opening verses of chapter 9 tell us, the Corinthians had been boasting about the wonderful offering they were going make toward this important effort. But now, many months later, Paul is ready to go to Corinth, but he wants to make sure the Corinthians will be prepared. Listen to what he writes in verses 1-5...
Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints,  for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia [that's northern Greece (Philippi, Berea, Thessalonica)], saying that Achaia [that's southern Greece (Corinth)] has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them.  But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be.  Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident.  So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.
Now listen to where Paul goes from here in terms of his encouragements. As we will see from the remainder of this chapter, Paul wants to encourage them in their giving by helping them to understand the harvest that God has in store for them when they step out in faith and sow the seed of their finances.
In fact there are four harvests that Paul describes here, four harvests that Paul wants them to get excited about. And these are four harvests that God wants us to get excited about as well.
1. A Harvest of Provision (vs. 6-8)
We find the first harvest in verses 6-8 of II Corinthians 9. Look at those with me...
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
So Paul not only wants them to give, but he wants them to give cheerfully. He's not writing in order to twist their arms. He wants to stir them to give with joy. But notice the point that both verses 6 and 8 are driving home. Paul does not want the Corinthians to waver in fear that somehow their giving to the needy will put them in a position of similar need.
Paul tells them that God loves to give to those who give, and when they give, God gives proportionately back to them. If they give a little, God will give a little back. If they give generously, God will generously replenish their seed bag. You cannot out-give God. Every time you give, He stands ready to give back to you.
Why? Verse 8: so that you can “abound in every good work”. What is Paul doing here? He is outlining God's plan to make you rich...rich in “every good work”...wealthy in generosity. So Paul doesn't want them to fret or waver. He wants them to be encouraged by the harvest of provision that God wants them to enjoy. Doesn't that encourage you as well?
2. A Harvest of Righteousness (vs. 9, 10)
But look at the second harvest Paul describes for us in verses 9 and 10. Paul writes...
As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”  He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
So Paul goes back and quotes from Psalm 112, verse 9, in order to show them that God's word, that the sacred writings of the OT confirm that God also wants the Corinthians to enjoy what verse 10 calls a “harvest of righteousness”. As the psalmist says, the man whose righteousness endures forever is the man who gives freely to the poor.
Look at verse 10 again. Did you notice that Paul is reassuring them again in light of God's faithfulness to provide? Notice the two categories Paul gives in the first part of verse 10. God gives you seed to sow AND he gives you “bread for food”. Or we could say, God gives you what you need AND what you need for seed. Do you think about what you have in light of those two categories?
But he goes on in verse 10. When we give, not only will God “multiply [our] seed for sowing”, but He will also “increase the harvest of [our] righteouness”. What does that mean? It means that God will grow you spiritually; that God will make you more and more like Jesus as you give like Jesus gave. And if we recognize the incomparable, the eternal value of being like Jesus, than very clearly, it is more blessed to give than to receive.
3. A Harvest of Thanksgiving (vs. 11, 12)
But there's even more here. Look at the third harvest that Paul describes in vs. 11, 12...
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.  For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.
So again, Paul reminds them that God wants to give to them in order that they become even more generous givers. And when Paul says “enriched in EVERY WAY” in order that they would “generous in EVERY WAY”, I think he wants them to understand that this goes beyond just our finances. God wants to bless you with time that you would be more generous with you time. God wants to bless you with relationships, that you would be more generous with your relationships.
But there's something also that happens. Verse 11 is where the conversation takes a turn in terms of these 'harvests' we've been talking about. Notice the harvest Paul mentions at the end of verse 11. What kind of produce will be produced? It will be a harvest of “thanksgiving to God”. So this harvest is not about something we receive, but something we inspire. Through their generosity, the Corinthians could do something amazing. They could help stoke the coals, they could help fan into the flame, the fires of gratefulness in the hearts of the poor in Jerusalem and Judea.
4. A Harvest of Unity (vs. 13-15)
But there's one final harvest Paul details in the closing verses of this chapter. Look with me at verse 13-15. Paul writes...
By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,  while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.  Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Now, if we want to grasp just how powerful these verses are, we need to remember something about the two sides of this collection. On one side were the poor Jewish believers in Judea and on the other side were the non-Jewish, the Gentile Christians of Asia Minor and Greece. Why does that matter? Because the division between Jew and Gentile was an extremely deep division, one that even tempted the early church to maintain that same division.
But Paul knew it was God's will for Jews and non-Jews to enjoy a harvest of unity. Why? Because Christ had united them by His blood. Listen to what Paul writes in Ephesians 2:
...remember that you [Gentiles] were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility... (Ephesians 2:12-14)
So as we see here in the closing verses of II Corinthians 9, this collection, this gift to the needy in Jerusalem was something that Paul saw as vitally important in order to foster unity in the early days of the church. Paul was firmly convinced that not only would Jewish Christians glorify God because of the faith of these Gentiles, but also for their generosity; for this tangible expression of care and concern. And not only would this inspire praise, but also prayers. Jewish believers would be praising God for and praying for their Gentile brothers and sisters.
How amazing! How wonderful! No wonder Paul concludes this chapter with the praise we find in verse 15: Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! What gift is he talking about? How could it be anything other than Christ, the One whose act of grace makes all of our acts of grace possible; the One whose giving makes all of our giving possible.
So we might ask, “Do we know if the Corinthians actually did give to this collection?” Well listen to how Paul summarizes things and also touches on this Jew and Gentile issue we've been thinking about. This is from Romans 15:25-27...
At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints.  For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.  For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.
III. Your Love Reaching Beyond Borders
So think again about Jesus' words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Do you recognize the immense blessing of giving, and specifically in light of this passage, the immense blessing of giving to God’s global work? What is God’s global work? It is the fulfillment of the prayer that Jesus himself taught us to pray; the very prayer that Jesus himself died to make possible:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9-10)
As the Corinthians gave to this collection, they were impacting the lives of fellow disciples who lived over 800 miles away. The reach of their generosity was not only crossing the sea, but it was also crossing social and cultural barriers.
Now someone might ask, “Wasn’t this money simply used to buy food?” Well, yes, but again, think about how this gift would affect the Jerusalem church spiritually: 1) it would help free them from a focus on merely surviving, 2) it would inspire gratitude to God, 3) it would inspire prayers, as 4) they caught a glimpse of the ‘bigness’, of the God-crafted diversity of the body of Christ (the worldwide church), therefore 5) it would nurture unity across old boundaries, and 6) it would serve as a witness to unbelieving Jews, a witness that God was fulfilling the ancient promises to draw in the Gentiles, to bless all the families of the earth.
And this collection or gift for the poor is only one example of what we see in the New Testament, in terms of giving to God’s global work. In Romans 15, Paul expresses his desire for the church in Rome to help him financially so that he can take the gospel to Spain. And in Philippians 4, Paul expresses his gratefulness for how the church in Philippi has supported his work of evangelism and church planting. And beyond money, we find greetings and individuals and prayers being offered, from one side of the Roman Empire to the other.
Brothers and sisters, are you ready to enjoy the harvests that come when we give to God’s global work? A harvest of provision from God, a harvest of righteousness increasing inside of you, a harvest of thanksgiving being offered up around the world, and a harvest of unity as we love beyond borders and welcome new brothers and sisters into our spiritual family, siblings “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9)!
Do you see how Paul was trying to stir them up to give with joy? Is God stirring you? If He is, then we might ask, “How? How can we give in this way?” Well, there are many ways to give. But, if you give to this church, then you already are giving to the global work as we give to Pastor Daniel’s ministry in India. But this Christmas, through Pastor Daniel, we can also bless women like Shakti Dasi. For $125, Daniel can purchase a sewing machine and give that to a sister in Christ who is struggling to survive. With that machine, she can begin to make a living for herself, to provide for herself and her children if she has them.
Just think about the impact that would make in her life. And beyond that, in light of our passage this morning, think about the spiritual impact that gift could make? Doesn’t that excite you? Affecting lives in India from right here in Buckeye (not 800, but 8800 miles!) It is truly more blessed to give than to receive! Let’s praise God for both the reality and opportunity of giving to God’s global work.
other sermons in this series